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PEI Mutual’s A Special Island Christmas

Various PEI Musicians

PEI Mutual's A Special Island Christmas—Various PEI MusiciansA project of Special Olympics PEI with various PEI musicians, PEI Mutual’s A Special Island Christmas CD will be launched at The Mack on in Charlottetown November 20 at 7:30 pm. The event and recording are initiatives of Special Olympics PEI. The organization’s Executive Director Charity Sheehan says, “100% of the funds raised from the launch and the CD will stay on PEI to support grassroots sport programs from Souris to Tignish.”

Recording artists who have contributed to the CD and who are performing at the launch include Dennis Ellsworth, Amy & Rachel Beck, Katie McGarry & Dan Currie, and Brian J. Dunn & Ian Toms. Also appearing at the launch are The Atlantic String Machine, SOPEI athlete Colton Matheson, and the house band featuring Don Fraser, Perry Williams, Devin Hornby and Alan White. Other recording artists who appear on the CD include Lennie Gallant, Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys with Meaghan Blanchard, Tim Chaisson, Ashley Condon, Jon Matthews & Cynthia MacLeod, and Paper Lions.

The CD is a collection of “all ­time favourite Christmas songs with a twist,” notes Sheehan, performed by some of the Island’s best musicians. The 10-track CD, produced by Jon Matthews at The Sound Mill, includes each performer’s take on classics such as “O Holy Night,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland.”

“I know I’m pretty excited to hear the entire compilation,” says Chaisson. “So many great PEI artists teaming up to support an incredible organization.”

Project coordinators Brad and Rachel Colwill add, “We were blown away by the enthusiasm and generosity of the artists we approached about donating their time and talent.”

Ashley Cameron donated graphic design and layout work, PEI Mutual signed on as title sponsor, and Murphy’s Pharmacy agreed to be a primary retail outlet for the CD, helping to make the project a true fundraiser for Special Olympics PEI.

The provincial division of the international organization is dedicated to enriching the lives of Islanders with an intellectual disability through sport.

Tickets for the launch are available through the Confederation Centre of the Arts box office or online at The CD will be available at the launch, online at, or at Murphy’s Pharmacies Island-wide.

For My Friends

Lonely Kid

For My Friends—Lonely KidElectronic artist and music producer Lonely Kid has released his first EP with the help of some Music PEI funding, one of the first electronic artists to do so on PEI.

For My Friends features two up-and-coming vocalists from PEI, Bridgette Blanchard (sister of Meaghan) and Regi MacLaren. Tracks are In Your Bones, One Year (with Bridgette Blanchard) and Feel At Home (with Regi MacLaren). If you catch Lonely Kid live, his act features a unique LED computer programmed light-up head.

“Myself and several others have worked hard to make these songs a reality,” says Lonely Kid, “and I’m very proud (and nervous) to present it to you. I’d like to use this as an opportunity to support a cause that means something to me. That said, every dollar that I receive from this EP will be going directly to the Kids Help Phone.”

You can donate by either messaging Lonely Kid or buying the EP as “pay what you want” on Bandcamp. For every donation you will receive a free Lonely Kid sticker.;

Holy Night

Courtney Hogan

Courtney Hogan—Holy NightPrince Edward Island’s “red headed fiddler” Courtney Hogan will launch her fourth CD entitled Holy Night. A blend of favourite Christmas tunes and classic fiddle pieces, there’s something to keep feet dancing from the first lively set of jigs and reels, to the slow-air nostalgic finale.

Dubbed as the “fiddling vet,” 25 year old Hogan graduated from the Atlantic Veterinary College earlier this year and was recruited as the newest veterinarian at the Summerside Animal Hospital. With a full-time career, Hogan admits she found some respite putting together this album. “Music has been around me my entire life. My great grandfather was a fiddler, my grandmother is a pianist and I love to play any chance I get—even if it’s Christmas tunes in the middle of a hot PEI summer to get this CD together for the holidays.”

The CD contains 11 tracks and Hogan shows her whimsical side with tunes like “Christmas in Killarney,” “The Merry Christmas Polka” and “Sleigh Ride.” It moves through spiritual classics like “Mary Did You Know” and “O Holy Night.” As on her previous three PEI music award-nominated CDs, there are hints of Courtney’s classical violin background in her music as she takes on “The Nutcracker” and a rendition of “Ave Marie.”

On this project Courtney collaborated with a few of her closest friends and fellow musicians—Richard Wood, Gordon Belsher and Eddy Quinn. Richard Wood is best known for his fiddle; however his talents on the keyboard are evident with this compilation. Hogan was also the mainstay fiddler with the popular PEI band “Fiddlers’ Sons” for several years so bringing in lead singer Eddy Quinn for a Christmas version of the popular cover of the Rubberboot Band’s “Cardigan Song” seemed like a natural fit. She’s joined by Internationally known musician Gordon Belsher on the bass, guitar and bodhran. The CD was recorded and produced at Belsher’s studio Guernsey Cove Parlour Productions.

Holy Night will available at upcoming Christmas shows during November and December and at Back Alley Music and Confederation Centre in Charlottetown.


Drea Macdonald

Lucky—Drea MacDonaldDrea Macdonald is feeling very lucky these days. She’s about to release her fourth recording, and for this one she has tried something different. Leaving most of her band behind, she put her songs in the hands of producer Nathan Wiley. Perhaps the most authentic group of songs to come from this songwriter, one can also hear the influence of Wiley, in the choice of instrumentation and arrangement, the percussion and finishing touches.

Lucky was recorded and mixed at The Nest Studio in Summerside, PEI, with engineer Greg Mountain at the helm. It features Drea on guitar, piano and vocals, George Maros, James Phillips, Karen Graves, Nikkie Gallant, Mike Dixon and Nathan Wiley (assistant engineer). Mastering was done by J. LaPointe at Archive Mastering, artwork and design by Ashley Cameron. CDs will be available at Back Alley Music, and digital copies can be downloaded through itunes or from

A launch party to celebrate the new record will be held at The Pourhouse (above The Old Triangle) in Charlottetown on November 14 at 7:30 pm. Special guest is James Phillips. Tickets are available at the door.

Harambee: Canadian Music for Trombone

Dale Sorensen

Dale Sorensen – HarambeeIsland trombonist Dale Sorensen’s debut solo recording is the culmination of over 20 years of collaborations with composers and performers across the country, represented in four stylistically unique contemporary classical works composed between 1979 and 2012.

The CD title, Harambee: Canadian Music for Trombone, was inspired by one of the two pieces for trombone and percussion, Jomo (1979) by Paul Théberge, which makes reference to “Harambee,” a Swahili word meaning “all pull together,” which captures the spirit of collaboration that is evident on each piece in this recording. Jomo includes a massive list of European, African, Indian and East Asian percussion instruments, and incorporates stylistic features from the ethnic music of each region. The trombonist explores a range of colours and effects through the use of various mutes and extended playing techniques, and by playing a conch shell. The other piece with percussion, Dialogues (1987) by Thomas Schudel, is like a series of conversations between the two musicians, whose discussions range from subdued to very animated, according to Sorensen. Both of these works feature percussionist Steven Wassmansdorf, a former colleague of Sorensen’s from the Windsor Symphony Orchestra in the 1990s.

Sorensen was directly involved with the creation of the other two works. Scott Good’s Sorensen Variations (2000) was commissioned with funding from the South Shore Arts Council and premiered at the Victoria Playhouse in PEI. This work, a theme and variations, showcases a variety of textures and rhythms while exploring the unusual relationship of a trombone with string quartet. Barbara York’s Nordic Suite (2012), for trombone, tuba and piano, is an immediately appealing and accessible children's “fantasy” that was inspired by Nordic culture and heritage. Sorensen premiered this work in Toronto in 2014. Both of these latter works were recorded with colleagues met while Sorensen was completing a doctorate in performance at the University of Toronto (Ton Beau Quartet; Jonathan Rowsell, tuba; Vanessa May-lok Lee, piano).

This CD contains the world premiere recordings of all four works, and is available in Charlottetown at Back Alley Music and the Confederation Centre Gift Shop, and on iTunes.

A Special Island Christmas

Island artists in support of Special Olympics PEI

This year, Jon Matthews decked the halls of The Sound Mill recording studio six months early. It seemed only fitting as he prepared to welcome some of the Island’s finest musicians to record A Special Island Christmas in support of Special Olympics PEI.

Project coordinators Brad and Rachel Col say, “We were blown away by the enthusiasm and generosity of the artists we approached about donating their time and talent”—artists like Lennie Gallant, Paper Lions, and Ashley Condon, to name a few.

A Special Island Christmas will be available for sale Island-wide in early November. Contributor Tim Chaisson says, “I know I’m pretty excited to hear the entire compilation—so many great PEI artists teaming up to support an incredible organization!”

This full-length compilation boasts ten tracks featuring Island artists, each putting their own spin on holiday favourites such as “O Holy Night,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” and “Winter Wonderland.” Contributing artists for this project include: Lennie Gallant, Tim Chaisson, Ashley Condon, Paper Lions, Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys, Meaghan Blanchard, Dennis Ellsworth, Amy & Rachel Beck, Katie McGarry, Dan Currie, Cynthia MacLeod, Jon Matthews, and Brian J. Dunn.

Producer Jon Matthews describes the album as “a special collection of timeless yuletide music that is uniquely PEI” and hopes that it will become part of Island families’ Christmas traditions for years to come.

Special Olympics PEI will host a release show November 20 at The Mack in Charlottetown. It promises to be a festive, music-filled evening with surprises and collaborations. Watch for details.

Secret Victory

The East Pointers

The East Pointers – Secret VictoryTraditional music is not always old even when it sounds like something lifted straight from a vintage ceilidh. For proof, witness The East Pointers recent release, Secret Victory, their debut full-length album.

Secret Victory features ten new original tracks written by guitarist Jake Charron, fiddler Tim Chaisson and his cousin, banjoist Koady Chaisson, vocalists all and, in the case of the Chaissons, members of Prince Edward Island’s reigning musical dynasty.

With Secret Victory, The East Pointers unwrap new possibilities in a musical style that dates back centuries yet is still relevant on multiple continents. The trio makes traditional music seem ridiculously hip, the most fun thing on the planet to dance and raise a pint to.

“That’s something The East Pointers are trying to accomplish—breathe some new, original life into traditional music,” confirms Tim Chaisson, whose solo career as a singer-songwriter is well established. “A lot of times, people think of it as music for an older generation but we’re hoping to introduce a whole new generation of listeners.”

Written in Australia during a 2015 tour supporting The East Pointers’ self-titled debut EP and essentially cut live off the floor at Hamilton, Ontario’s Catherine North Studios, the self-produced Secret Victory wears its influences on its sleeve while blazing its own musical trail.

The album features Chaisson’s plaintive lead vocals, the wistful, banjo-fuelled “Last Blank Page,’ the percolating “Work That Way,” and the heavy-hearted “Cold.”

“‘Cold’ is a unique track,” Charron says. “We worked with [Newfoundland songwriter-producer] Chris Kirby on that song. We had the idea of someone having gone through something difficult in their life and having a hard time moving forward but at the same time knowing they can’t change what’s happened.”

The rest of the album is a series of free-wheeling, feisty instrumental jigs, stomps and reels—or some combination of the three.

“We just really wanted to record original stuff. We all love composing and putting our own little style on something that goes back generations,” explains Koady Chaisson, “We are literally the seventh generation of musicians in our family, and what we do is a little different than what our uncles might do, for example, which would be more Scottish influenced. We embrace the Scottish influence… but also Irish and French and so on.”

The East Pointers won 2015 Music PEI New Artist of the Year and Roots Traditional Recording of the Year awards. They were nominated for Traditional Instrumental Recording of the Year at the 2015 East Coast Music Awards. The band is set to return to the UK and Australia in late 2015 and early 2016 after touring Canada.

Laugh, Dance & Sing

Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys

Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys – Laugh, Dance & SingGordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys CD release concert for their new album, Laugh, Dance & Sing, takes place October 17 at 7:30 pm at The Mack in Charlottetown. Tickets are available at the Confederation Centre of the Arts Box office in person or by calling 1-800-565-0278 or 566-1267.

Laugh, Dance & Sing, produced by Dale Murray, features thirteen original songs and traditional arrangements demonstrating the group’s high-energy flair and musicianship, offering up rockabilly-inspired rhythms, upbeat reels and MacKeeman’s fiddle work. It offers a mix of traditional-leaning ideas, and modern influences infused with elements of roots, folk, bluegrass, western swing, Celtic, and hints of Scottish country dance.

The Rhythm Boys are entertaining audiences across Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Ireland, Belgium, Malaysia, India and Australia. With a list of notable achievements, the band was recently honoured with the 2015 Music PEI Award for Entertainer of the Year and Touring Artist of the Year and their album, Pickin n’ Clickin, was awarded 2014 East Coast Music Award and Music PEI Award for Roots Traditional Group Recording of the Year.

Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys deliver a concert experience filled with high-energy electrifying entertainment. With a slight bend of his knee, Gordie MacKeeman launches into a song. Guided by the cuts of his fiddle, his crazy legs shake and twist with fancy footwork. The whole time The Rhythm Boys’ (Peter Cann, Mark Geddes and Thomas Webb) deliver roots instrumentation to accompany the spectacle. Join along in an unforgettable experience and celebrate the launch of Laugh, Dance & Sing with Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys.,

“This band is a real breath of fresh air and fun. Given the generic ‘roots’ label, there are heavy influences of bluegrass, western swing, Celtic and even Scottish country dance music in here. It all adds up to a mighty fine package.”—Maverick Magazine, UK

I Remember Canada

Teresa Doyle

Teresa Doyle – I Remember CanadaTeresa Doyle released her new album, I Remember Canada, at The Trailside Cafe in September. This is the twelfth recording for Teresa Doyle. Her music has taken many directions over the years—jazz, celtic, music for children, renaissance, gaelic and world. This collection follows in the path of Pete Seeger and Buffy St. Marie. The EP is a love song to Canada with seven songs that speak to the hopes and challenges of our time. The title track, says Doyle, laments losing our moral compass—that we are no longer proud to sew flags on our backpacks, and no longer a nation of peacekeepers.

“I Remember Canada, Teresa Doyle’s latest project, is a musical wakeup shake that will reignite your love for this country. Move over, Stompin’ Tom. These are the new anthems we will all commit to our maple leaf shaped hearts.”—Mae Moore songwriter/artist/environmentalist

The recording was produced by multi-instrumentalist, Andrew MacIsaac. Teresa says, “my philosophy is find a good producer and let them do their job. With Richard Chapman, Oliver Schroer , Jaron Freeman-Fox and now Andrew, I took a gamble on a newbie. All of those guys never produced for anyone else before, but I loved their music sensibility and valued their friendship. It’s very important to me that the producer is a friend, some who knows me well and can paint the picture that’s inside my head. I am thrilled with Andrew’s production, the album has hints of folk, pop, latin and world music.”

This recording tackles the big issues. With the refugee crisis “The World is in a Pickle” couldn’t be more timely. Doyle searches for a root cause and postulates that selling arms to despots creates big problems, as does the fact that 85 billionaires own half the world. “Leave it in the Ground” underlines what Doyle describes as the hard reality that most of the fossil fuels on the planet need to stay put to avoid catastrophic climate change. “Lucky” is feel good pop, celebrating life on rural PEI.

Andrew contributed multiple guitars, keyboard, percussion and programming. Teresa’s son Patrick Bunston sang back up vocals, and Todd MacLean played saxophone. Andrew teamed up with Adam Gallant for the mixing and mastering. Eliza Knockwood did the video treatment of “I Remember Canada” and Kat McKernan is doing a video of “Leave it in the Ground.” Photos are by Brett Bunston and Ron Walsh did the package design. The album is available at various locations including Back Alley Discs, The Farmers Market and at

Teresa Doyle is running for the Green Party in Cardigan and has a full slate of house concerts/political meetings around the riding.

Terre Rouge


Vishtèn – Terre RougeFor the follow-up to their 2012 album Mōsaïk, ECMA winners Vishtèn went back to the source: the red soil of the Magdalens and Prince Edward Island and their local characters and torchbearers. They took up residencies in their local communities and studied parts of the tradition they had never fully explored to create Terre Rouge.

Emmanuelle studied percussive dance, collaborating with local performers and invited La Bottine Souriante dancer Sandy Silva to PEI. Together, they brought new, rock-inflected beats into flying Acadian footwork, an approach that shines on “Trois Blizzards.”

Pascal worked with master PEI fiddlers to learn more about PEI tradition and how it related to the fiddle music he grew up with on the Magdalens. “Corandina” is a Vishtèn favorite from the islands that got a revamp for the album.

Pastelle dug into mouth music. She turned to Georges Arsenault, a folklorist and historian who had dedicated himself to recording this fast-fading tradition. She listened to his extensive archives, and found herself weaving rhythmic vocal patterns into tunes such has “Coeur en Mer” and “Je vous aime tant.”

Vishtèn has gathered together the fruits of the islands, turning footwork and mouth music, “crooked” fiddle tunes and French ballads into contemporary pieces. Pulling it all together is Montreal producer Éloi Painchaud (Okoumé, Stephen Faulkner).

Raised in the Evangeline region of PEI, co-founders the LeBlanc sisters descended from one of Canada’s earliest Acadian settler families. Pastelle plays piano, mandolin, and accordion while Emmanuelle plays bodhràn, Irish whistle, piano, octave mandolin, and jaw harp. Both also step-dance. Miousse comes from a musical family of Acadian-Aboriginal ancestry from the Magdelen Islands. He was a veteran fiddler, guitarist and mandolin player, by the time he joined Vishtèn.

The ensemble has received seven East Coast Music Award nominations—winning the 2008 and 2013 Francophone Recording of the Year—and three PEI Music Awards for Group of the Year, Roots-Traditional Group of the Year and Francophone Album of the Year. They’ve performed at countless major international festivals and venues, including Festival Interceltique de Lorient in France, Europe’s largest Celtic festival, where they were named the “Revelation du Festival” in 2004.

Events Calendar

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